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Women in Motorsports: Breaking Barriers and Making Strides in a Male-Dominated Field

This article is posted in collaboration with an outside sponsorship client. The opinions and information contained within do not necessarily represent Frontstretch and its staff.

Motorsports have traditionally been a male-dominated field, but over the last decade, more and more women are choosing to participate. Extreme E and W series have all proved to be an invaluable outlet for female drivers, breaking barriers in motorsport. Players making a live bet in Canada, and globally, can now have the chance to do so with more representation of women in the sport. 

Below we’ll take a look at some of the reasons women haven’t yet broken into the sport and why that’s likely to change in the very near future. 

New for 2023

For a long time, there was little support from within the organizations for women in motorsport; however, this year sees a new and exciting initiative in the form of the F1 Academy. This is a unique feeder initiative which will help women fight their way into the single-seater pyramid. Currently, the extreme E series offers a 50-50 gender split between male and female drivers, and the W series is an all-female grid with 18 full-time drivers.

A huge gap

In the top-flight motorsport world, there is a distinct lack of successful women. However, the reasons behind this seem quite unclear in some cases. Various arguments have been levied over the years, including women not having the physical strength to break into motorsport; however, potentially, it is down to the bias toward male domination and therefore, potential female drivers are not able to find financial backing or professional teams to support them. There are certainly many challenges facing the aspiring female driver, making it a difficult path, and yet one that women in motorsport are hoping to inspire new generations to take up.

Females in F1

The new F1 Academy is fully backed by Formula 1, and the head of the initiative will be Susie Wolff. She is certainly a name associated with women drivers in motorsport and is also married to the chief executive of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team Toto Wolff. This certainly indicates that perhaps the biggest race tournament in the industry is starting to change its view on women drivers. 

They are technically not banned from driving in the Formula 1 series, but there hasn’t been a female driver for over 40 years. Figures show that Women make up approximately 40% of all F1 fans, and with 20 drivers on the grid, F1 is now making a serious effort to try and secure at least one female driver.

Financial Support 

With financial backing thought to be one of the biggest barriers to women in motorsport, the F1 Academy has confirmed that 15 female drivers who drive for five teams will have their budgets subsidized. More Than Equal is also championing women drivers. This is a not-for-profit launched in June 2022 and has one single purpose of seeing a woman on the podium. 

This initiative was founded by Kate Bevan, who also disputes the physical strength arguments that have previously been used against women wanting to drive. Her initiative will see young talented females headhunted and nurtured so that they may achieve success. Bevan herself is certainly familiar with the industry, as she is a long-term Formula One executive, so she has a unique understanding of the sport.

Digging deeper

Alongside their mission to scout for new talent, More Than Equal will also conduct extensive research to find out why only a handful of women are racing.  These are all in Formula 4, so they aim to discover why they are not progressing to Formula 1, Formula 2 or Formula 3. 

Initial findings suggest we are still some ways away from seeing a woman in the F1 grid. The initiative says it’s going to be at least another eight or nine years. While there may not be any rules stopping women from competing at the highest levels of motor racing, there are many hurdles for them to overcome, not least intimidation from male drivers, who do not all seem to agree that women should be there.

First-hand experience 

One woman who hopes to become a successful F1 driver is Macie Hitter. She is just 15 years old but has been part of the go-karting world since she was eight and has already proven her skills. At home, she has a staggering collection of trophies, and she has racked up a serious number of wins.

However, she has often spoken of the fact that even as a young woman, boys on the track are very judgmental about her being there. She said they don’t want to be beaten by a girl and are, therefore, hostile and not very friendly when she takes her place on the track. For Macie, the current barrier to progression is that she cannot get sponsorship, so one of the new initiatives may help her reach her goal.

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Echo

Danica had top notch equipment and tons of money in sponsorship, so those excuses are out for her. She just wasn’t a good driver.

Bill B

Her problem was she kept getting bad crew chiefs. LOL

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